Quest Diagnostics, Madison, NJ, has begun an effort to assign a unique Patient Identifier–a secure 16-digit identification number–to every Quest Diagnostics patient.

In what is believed to be the largest effort of its kind in the area of assigning health IDs, the company has assigned unique identifiers to approximately 80 million patients to date.

Surya N. Mohapatra, PhD, chairman and CEO, has called on the health care industry to support the adoption of unique patient IDs to speed and streamline access to critical patient records, which, for an individual patient, can often reside at several different physician offices, specialists, hospitals, and insurance providers. With Patient IDs, providers would gain a comprehensive and current view of a patient’s health history.

Mohapatra notes that patients are increasingly relying on smart phones and tablets to better manage all aspects of their lives.

Quest patients who visit the company’s Web site to schedule an appointment or pay a bill, or who register for the Quest Diagnostics Gazelle® Secure Mobile Health App, are automatically assigned a Quest Diagnostics Health ID. Since the company introduced the Gazelle platform in 2010, more than 200,000 patients have downloaded the Gazelle App, which allows patients to securely manage their personal health information and receive their Quest Diagnostics test results directly on their Apple® or Android®-based smartphones.

[Source: Quest Diagnostics]